Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
The societal conditions of the world prior to the Flood had so degraded that mankind had become completely characterized by wickedness and evil. As a result, we are told that God “grieved in His heart” (Genesis 6:6) for creating man.
This is the first verse in the Bible where the word “heart” (Hebrew labe) is used. In the Bible, when the term “the heart” is used in the context of human character, it is referring to “the seat of the mind, intellect, purpose” (Soncino Books of the Bible, Vol. 1, p. 19). In other words, “the heart” refers to who we are and what we are down to the core of our being. God is revealing that He is not just concerned with outward conduct—but with the inward thoughts and motivations of human beings.
The majority of people before the Flood became so evil and wicked that their negative character completely overwhelmed any potential for good. The Bible teaches that human nature at its worst is “deceitful … and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). (Other scriptures show that the potential for evil within human nature comes to the fore as a result of personal choices; those choices are influenced and the subsequent evil is amplified by Satan the devil.)
The level of human wickedness had reached a unique low before the Flood. Two of the characteristics of the sinful state of antediluvian human beings were sexual lust (Genesis 6:2, 4) and murderous violence (verse 11).
Jesus Christ compared the end times to this antediluvian period: “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark” (Matthew 24:37-38). This shows us that before the flood, life was being lived as normal, with no regard for God. The flood came upon the antediluvian as a surprise because they lacked any regard for God or the preaching of Noah (2 Peter 2:5). Peter described the people of this time as “ungodly” (2 Peter 2:5).
The social conditions during the end time are described in detail in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. Since Christ likens the end times to the antediluvian world, we can assume many of these same conditions describe what society was like then. Putting all these scriptures together, the fundamental issue during this time period was people living lives totally driven by lust and hate with absolutely no fear of God or sense of morality (Romans 1:28). The Bible also defines this as being “carnally minded” (Romans 8:6-8).
Throughout the Bible, God reveals that His desire is for human beings to repent—which means a change of life to the core of the heart. The New Covenant was prophesied to include God’s law (the definition of His character) being written on the hearts and minds of human beings (Jeremiah 31:33). God wants us to have the opposite of the characteristics of the antediluvian world! We are to be “spiritually minded” (Romans 8:6) and to love God “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37, 39).
To learn more about how to change your heart and become less like the wicked antediluvians and more like God, read “What Is Conversion?”
Tomorrow on the Daily Bible Verse Blog: “God’s Response to a Wicked Humanity: Part 1.”